World Beverages Part 10: Beer, Berlin and Balance…

What: Berliner Kindl Beer

Where: Patio by the Spree River, Berlin, Germany

Who: My travel partner extraordinaire and I.

The Story:

For me Berlin is a city that exemplifies contrasting identities. It embraces the juxtaposition that I love so much: Respecting tradition while embracing progress. Honouring history but living in the present. Restoring stone palaces with features of glass and steel. Transforming war-scarred buildings into prosperous peacetime businesses. Modern and ancient. Restored and original. War and peace. West and east. My love of duality made real. This contrast can be seen as opposing or balancing. I choose to see differences as complementing. I believe that differences should be embraced not assimilated.

This trip, similar to most trips with my new travel companion, was one of dualities. Our approach to travel differs greatly. She loves schedules, pre-planning every detail, visiting all the tourist landmarks and taking a million photographs as evidence of our travels. I prefer the unknown and the road less travelled. I am happy to book a flight, buy a travel guide and go. I’ll happily skip most famous landmark in favour of walking the winding alleyways, having a drink in a local bar or visiting the farmers market. I rarely take photos as I’ve learned that often you miss the moment you are trying desperately to capture.

While sitting in the sunshine in Berlin, I realized we were living this contrast. We drank locally-produced beer at a small neighbourhood restaurant that overlooked a very famous city landmark and we had no plan for the afternoon but a tourist boat cruise booked for that evening. This moment was a perfect example of our differences complementing each other. I realized how grateful I am for those differences and how insanely lucky I am to have a great travel companion who pushes me beyond my comfort zone, who has shown me that sometimes the tourist sights can be worth braving the crowds for, and who has proven that 500+ photos can mean a well-documented trip to share with family. And I think I have shown her that taking time to pause can make for more enjoyable travel, that taking local transit helps you see the city in a whole new way, and that sometimes following your instincts, not a schedule, can make for a magical adventure.

I think I’ve learned that the best way to travel is to find balance between our views, our personalities, our backgrounds. To celebrate our different perspectives and embrace our similarities. Perhaps more importantly, I have learned the value of compromise, of open communication and of letting go of disputes. And I hope I will be able to take this on to my future relationships and future adventures.

A triangle trying to squeeze through a circle. He tried to cut me so I’d fit. I think I realized just in time, although my old self was hard to find. I’m a little bit tired of fearing that I’ll be the bad fruit nobody buys. Tell me, did you think we’d all dream the same? – Missy Higgins.

05.23.13 - Berlin 8

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